Attorney General Phil Weiser files lawsuit against 15 companies over firefighting foam containing toxic ‘forever chemicals’
Feb. 28, 2022 (DENVER)—Attorney General Phil Weiser today filed a lawsuit against 15 manufacturers of a firefighting foam containing polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) for damages and injuries that these toxic chemicals have caused to Colorado’s public health and natural resources.
Aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) is a product widely used to fight some fires. This foam contains PFAS, also known as “forever chemicals” because they persist in the environment and accumulate in living organisms, including people. Research shows that exposure to high levels of PFAS chemicals may be associated with serious diseases including an increased risk of cancer.
In the complaint filed today in Denver District Court, Weiser alleges that the companies responsible for the manufacture, marketing, sale, or distribution of PFAS-containing AFFF used in the state knew or should have known their products harmed the environment and human health. To date, sampling by the Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment has detected PFAS in water across the state, and in military facilities in Colorado Springs, the Suncor oil refinery, airports, and fire districts.
The AFFF manufacturers named in the lawsuit are E. I. Du Pont De Nemours and Company; The Chemours Company; The Chemours Company FC, LLC; DowDuPont, Inc.; Corteva, Inc.; Dupont De Nemours, Inc.; Tyco Fire Products, LP; Willfire HC, LL; Chemguard, Inc.; National Foam, Inc.; Angus Fire Armour Corporation; Angus International Safety Group, Ltd.; Royal Chemical Company; Buckeye Fire Equipment Company; and Fire Services Plus, Inc.
In this action, Weiser is seeking a court order requiring these manufacturers to pay for all costs to investigate, clean up, restore, and monitor contamination at all sites in the state where PFAS-containing AFFF was used, released, spilled, stored, or disposed of.
“The companies responsible for making firefighting foam with toxic forever chemicals and selling it for use in our state long after they knew or should have known of the harmful nature of this foam have caused harm to our communities. Colorado now has forever chemicals in our soil and drinking water systems and people’s health is at risk. These companies knew that these chemicals posed significant threats to human health and the environment and nonetheless put Colorado at risk; it is important that they pay for the harm they caused,” said Weiser.
In bringing this lawsuit, Weiser coordinated with CDPHE on developing the case. CDPHE has several PFAS-related programs such as an AFFF buyback program and a voluntary testing program for fire stations.
Several possible defendants were not included in the lawsuit due to agreements that allow time to pursue settlement discussions. This strategy allows Colorado to focus on recovery of damages incurred by Colorado, maximizing the resources spent on finding agreement rather than litigation. If the parties cannot agree on an appropriate amount of money to address the contamination in Colorado, the agreements allow the State to file a lawsuit later.
This is the first case the attorney general is bringing from an ongoing investigation, which may result in additional legal action.